Starting Your Own Firm
In my book, How to Create a Big, Fat Pipeline of New Clients for Your Law Firm in Just 10 Days, I discuss all the factors Google looks at to determine which search results will appear on page one.
I came across this very good video that discusses the issues as well, and provides a basic summary of how Google works. The video covers only the basics, but I really like the example used to explain incoming links, which also covers the importance of proper anchor text. I also appreciate that the author never tries to sell anything.
As set forth in How to Create a Big, Fat Pipeline, backlinks are important, and they are something you should strive for, but as I show, you can land on page one with no backlinks.
No doubt much to the chagrin of my partner, I give away an obscene amount of free legal services. The thing is, I’ve been doing this so long that I have worked out easy solutions for many of the legal problems I get calls about. Most attorneys would no doubt bring the caller in and charge a consultation fee or charge to write a letter, and that’s perfectly appropriate, but it is often the case that if I just spend 15 to 30 minutes on the phone with the caller, I can give them the information they need to fix the problem (or at least let them know that there is no economically feasible solution to the problem).
If I can solve a caller’s problem in 30 minutes or less, I generally don’t charge for my time. Like most attorneys, I take pro bono cases, but I consider this informal help line to be my biggest pro bono contribution. And having solved the problems the callers thought would require a lot of time and attorney fees, they are of course very appreciative. Some practically fall all over themselves, wanting to show their appreciation for the help I provided. Many offer to pay for my time, and some seem to be put off if I tell them I’m not going to charge them. It’s a weird dynamic. I don’t charge because the warm fuzzy I get from helping someone with a few minutes of my time is payment enough, but I get the sense that they think I assumed they were just mooching my time and that’s why I’m not asking for payment. I provided an invaluable service to them, and they are seemingly hurt that I won’t let them compensate me in some way.
To deal with this dynamic, and as my own little test of human nature, years ago I came up with a procedure I follow when the caller is insisting on paying me for time I decided to provide pro bono. When they are going on and on about how I saved their life, and asking what they can do to repay me for the time, I give the following response:
Do you have my address from the website? Good. Tell you what. If I billed you for the time I spent with you on the phone it would be about $200, but I am so happy I was able to help you out so quickly, just send me $50 so I can take my wife to dinner, and we’ll call it even.
In almost all cases, they respond that they are so appreciative of what I have done that they are happy to pay the whole $200, but I say, “No, $50 so I can take my wife to dinner is fine. Just keep me in mind in the future if you or anyone you know needs an attorney.” I’ve probably been doing this routine for about 15 years, averaging two per week, so that’s about 1,560 times I’ve offered to “call it even” for $50 so I can take my wife to dinner.
I have never received a $50 check. Remember, this isn’t me broaching the subject. I get far more calls where the person thanks me for the information and hangs up, never asking if they owe me anything. I am only talking about the situations where the caller has said they want to send money.
From those 15 to 30 minute phone calls, I have kept people from losing their homes, going to jail, and/or saved them untold amounts of money, but no $50 checks. I literally saved a man’s life once. He was six hours away from dying due to a snafu over his dialysis treatments. I made some calls and got everything squared away. He thanked me for saving his life and asked if there was anything he could do to repay me. No check.
If my wife really was dependent on these callers for her dinners, she’d be emaciated. The sad thing is that my largess is probably costing me business. When the callers do later need an attorney, they probably don’t call because they never sent the $50.
Since I wasn’t getting the $50 checks anyway, as of late I’ve changed it up a little just for the amusement factor. I thought maybe it was the amount that was throwing them a curve. Maybe in their minds since I’m taking so little for the services provided, and don’t seem to care about the money, that it’s not even worth sending. So I took money out of the equation. Now when they ask what they can do to thank me, I say something like, “send me a box of See’s Candy” or “send me a Starbucks card.”
On a recent occasion, I responded with “send me some chocolate-covered fruit.” I was actually envisioning one of those fruit bouquets from Edible Arrangements, but as you can see from the photo, I received a very nice box of chocolate-covered strawberries today. Close enough.
After 15 years, my faith in humanity is restored. Start your own firm, and you too could have a shot at a box of chocolate-covered strawberries once every 15 years.
Bloomberg Businessweek published a great article on Tuesday, discussing fake Yelp reviews, following a sting operation in New York, designed to catch businesses engaging in the process.
Referring to the process as “astroturfing”, the article details the sting by the New York State Attorney General. The AG set up a fake yogurt shop in Brooklyn, then approached search engine optimization (SEO) companies, asking for assistance in combating negative on-line reviews.
The SEO companies did what many unscrupulous SEO companies do – they flooded the Internet with positive reviews for their client business. In one case, a company called Zandel posted over 1,500 fake reviews on websites such as Yelp and Google Places. The AG viewed these false positive reviews as false advertising, and charged the companies accordingly. The cases were all resolved with “assurances of discontinuance” and fines ranging from $2,500 to $100,000.
The article lists a number of non-SEO businesses that were also fined, but does not explain the link between them and the fake yogurt shop scam. I am guessing that once the AG determined which identities were being used to post the fake reviews for the yogurt shop, it was a simple matter to see which other businesses received reviews from those “reviewers”. The fact that many of these reviewers were in Bangladesh and the Philippines made clear that they were not real customers of the businesses.
I applaud the efforts of the New York AG’s office in exposing the problem of false reviews, but I think they approached it from the wrong angle. To use an admittedly strange analogy, it’s the classic issue of whether you should go after the prostitutes or their customers if your goal is to discourage prostitution. Bear with me.
It has been estimated that as many as 20% of reviews are fake. Just as the prostitutes are only there because there are customers, the temptation to post false positive reviews comes in part from the need to combat the false negative reviews. Picture the boxer who scrupulously avoids hitting below the belt while his opponent pummels him in the groin. His adherence to the rules is the right thing to do, but you can imagine the frustration. (I’m just full of analogies today.)
False positive reviews are bad, but I submit that false negative reviews are far worse. When a business posts a fake positive review, that review may be entirely true and even based on a real customer experience. It is fake because it is not written by an actual customer, but it may not be misleading beyond the identity of the poster. In other words, if a steakhouse posts a fake review from a customer, saying “I love the steaks here,” chances are some customers really do love the steaks but never got around to posting a review.
On the other hand, when a company posts a fake negative reviews about their competition, the “reviewer” is creating an entirely fictional negative experience with the business, and there is no reason to believe that any customer actually had that negative experience.
If a government agency is going to spend our tax dollars trying to protect the sanctity of Yelp reviews, I hope that at least equal time will be spent addressing all the false negative reviews.
In my book, How to Create a Big, Fat Pipeline of New Clients for Your Law Firm in Just 10 Days, I provide the following anecdote:
There is a classic Peanuts comic, where Linus is going door to door trying to sell wadded up pieces of paper as cat toys. His sales presentation is good, but he never makes a sale. He asks the cat owners to picture the hours of fun their cats will have playing with the wadded up piece of paper. Nonetheless, he can’t get past the fact that he’s selling wadded up pieces of paper. He loses the sale every time, because the prospective customers realize and explain that they can wad up their own pieces of paper.
I don’t know why that comic stuck with me, but I see it played out over and over in real life, especially on the Internet. To this day, solo practitioners who can’t afford it are spending thousands of dollars to have people build websites for them. To fulfill my continuing education requirements, I was at a law firm marketing seminar recently where someone claimed that incoming links are essential to successful search engine optimization (SEO). He claimed that you should have 30,000 incoming links to your site, and as luck would have it, he just happened to offer a link-building service for the “limited time, have to buy it now or the offer is lost for ever” price of $1,950 per month. He normally required a one year commitment, but attorneys signing up on the spot only had to commit to six months. Attorneys were lined up to pay $1,950 per month — a total commitment of almost $12,000 — for incoming links to a single website! The website fiverr.com offers 50,000 incoming links for just $5, and they are just as worthless as what this person was offering.
These sorts of absurd SEO claims and pricing are far too commonplace. By accident or design, many so-called SEO experts mystify the process so that you won’t realize it’s just wadded up pieces of paper, and you can wad your own paper, thank you very much.
Today I came across an interesting article by Jared Jorde entitled 5 Reasons Attorneys are Easy Marks for SEO Scams on a blog called LawLytics. Jorde has apparently witnessed the same sort of nonsense I reported, and provides a detailed look at the reasons behind the phenomenon. The article is worth a read to make sure you don’t fall prey to one of the scams yourself.
LawLytics is itself in the business of creating websites for attorneys. In Big Fat Pipeline, I explain how to create your own websites for just $6 per month, and I use that as a point of reference when someone is offering to create websites for me. I have no objection to farming out that work, and although I have no experience with LawLytics, I’d bet their websites are fancier than my own meager efforts. You went to law school to practice law, not to create websites. So by all means allow the pros to create your sites if your budget permits, but just keep in mind that it isn’t magic, and you can wad your own paper.
My primary practice area is free speech and defamation, and I receive a lot of phone calls from potential customers, wanting to sue for false reviews on Yelp. Most Yelp users probably realize that there is a great deal of self-promotion going on, but I don’t think most know that Yelp is replete with false negative reviews. On more than one occasion, when we tracked down the IP address of the person posting false negative reviews about a business client, we found that it was a competing business. In one case our client was a dentist, who suddenly received several terrible reviews. It turned out the culprit was another nearby dentist, who had an employee whose job duties included creating false Yelp identities in order to post false positive reviews about his employer, as well as false negative reviews about the local competitors.
Against this backdrop, it is not hard to imagine that business owners, including attorneys, might be frustrated enough to be tempted to level the playing field a little by posting a few positive reviews about their own businesses. Yelp itself doesn’t appear to be doing much to curb that temptation. I get probably two calls a month from potential clients, complaining that after they refused to subscribe to Yelp’s services, Yelp responded by removing most or all of their positive reviews. If true, then Yelp cannot seriously contend that it is interested in the integrity of its reviews.
But despite all of this, honesty remains the best policy, as evidenced by a recent action by Yelp against a law firm that allegedly gave into the temptation to post its own reviews. In this case, a small San Diego law firm, the McMillan Law Group, subscribed to Yelp’s services, allegedly based on representations that were made about the number of page views it would receive. When the results fell below what the McMillan Law Group says was promised, it demanded a refund. Yelp balked, and the law firm sued in small claims court. The firm prevailed, and obtained a $2,700 judgment against Yelp.
“The McMillan Law Group, a San Diego law firm specializing in bankruptcy, exemplifies the behavior that Yelp combats daily through its algorithms and investigations—the planting of fake reviews intended to sway potential clients with false testimonials. The McMillan Law Group’s efforts to mislead consumers are particularly brazen and disappointing given they have targeted some of the most vulnerable consumers of all—individuals who may be facing bankruptcy and who are looking for potential legal representation.”
In the complaint, Yelp details its investigative results, alleging that multiple Yelp user accounts were created from a computer located at the same McMillan Law Group IP address used to create reviews about that law firm.
In an interview with Bloomberg Law, Julian McMillan stated, “It’s bullying tactics. I get it. They want me to spend some money but I just don’t see how they come a winner in this [from a PR standpoint].”
As McMillan also notes, Yelp’s lawsuit seems like a really bone-headed move from a discovery standpoint. Since Yelp is claiming that false reviews by the McMillan Law Group have interfered with its contractual relations and caused it damages, it has now made all of its business practices and income fair game for discovery. It will also be very interesting to learn whether Yelp routinely brings such lawsuits to maintain the integrity of its reviews, or does so only in response to being sued.
For a detailed discussion of the love fest between Yelp and the McMillan Law Group, see the article at Bloomberg Law.
If the threat of getting in trouble with the State Bar is not enough, maybe the threat of both civil and criminals actions will get attorneys to toe the line.
You know that it is an ethical violation for an attorney to threaten criminal action as a means to extract a civil settlement. For example, California’s Rules of Professional Conduct state that “a member shall not threaten to present criminal, administrative, or disciplinary charges to obtain an advantage in a civil dispute.” (Rule 5-100.)
Then there are the criminal extortion laws:
“Extortion is the obtaining of property from another, with his consent . . . induced by a wrongful use of force or fear. . . .‟ (Pen. Code, § 518.) Fear, for purposes of extortion ‘may be induced by a threat, either: [¶] . . . [¶] 2. To accuse the individual threatened . . . of any crime; or, [¶] 3. To expose, or impute to him . . . any deformity, disgrace or crime[.]’ (Pen. Code, § 519.) ‘Every person who, with intent to extort any money or other property from another, sends or delivers to any person any letter or other writing, whether subscribed or not, expressing or implying, or adapted to imply, any threat such as is specified in Section 519, is punishable in the same manner as if such money or property were actually obtained by means of such threat.’” (Pen. Code, § 523.)
Despite these prohibitions, some attorneys can’t resist throwing a threat of criminal action into their demand letters. They apparently think (if they give it any thought at all) that an express or veiled threat of criminal action will be protected under the litigation privilege, but that is not the case. If you include a demand for money in a letter that threatens to pursue criminal action, you have committed extortion, and as Flatley v. Mauro held, that is not protected speech because criminal acts are not protected.
The most recent example of this was discussed in the just published decision of Miguel Mendoza v. Reed K. Hamzeh. According to the opinion, an attorney named Reed K. Hamzeh was representing a client named Guy Chow, seeking to recover money allegedly owed to Chow by Miguel Mendoza. The dispute concerned Mendoza’s employment as the manager of Chow’s print and copy business. Hamzeh sent a letter to Mendoza’s attorney, which according to the opinion stated:
“As you are aware, I have been retained to represent Media Print & Copy (“Media”). We are in the process of uncovering the substantial fraud, conversion and breaches of contract that your client has committed on my client. . . . To date we have uncovered damages exceeding $75,000, not including interest applied thereto, punitive damages and attorneys‟ fees. If your client does not agree to cooperate with our investigation and provide us with a repayment of such damages caused, we will be forced to proceed with filing a legal action against him, as well as reporting him to the California Attorney General, the Los Angeles District Attorney, the Internal Revenue Service regarding tax fraud, the Better Business Bureau, as well as to customers and vendors with whom he may be perpetrating the same fraud upon [sic].”
The letter goes on to list Mendoza‟s alleged transgressions, including failure to pay Media’s employees, sales taxes and bills.
What followed next was Flatley all over again, with some additional twists. In May 2011, Mendoza responded to the demand letter by filing an action against attorney Hamzeh, asserting causes of action for civil extortion, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unfair business practices. Just as in Flatley, Hamzeh thought his letter was protected under the litigation privilege, and brought an anti-SLAPP motion to strike Mendoza’s complaint. But here, the plaintiff’s counsel had the benefit of the already decided Flatley, and wrote to Hamzeh to say that the anti-SLAPP motion would be frivolous since the facts fell squarely under that decision. Hamzeh decided to go ahead regardless, and after the court denied the motion it awarded attorney fees on the ground that the motion had, indeed, been frivolous. Hamzeh then appealed from the denial of the anti-SLAPP motion, and lost. The action against Hamzeh for civil extortion and the other causes of action will now proceed.
The takeaway from Hamzeh’s experience is that the standard for civil extortion is very low. On appeal, Hamzeh argued that his demand letter was not nearly as egregious as the one utilized in Flatley, which was true, but as the court found, the issue is not how far the letter goes, it is whether it amounts to civil extortion as a matter of law. As you can see from the Penal Codes above, that requires only a demand for money in conjunction with a threat to “expose, or impute to him . . . any deformity, disgrace or crime . . . .” That standard is incredibly broad! It doesn’t even matter whether or not a crime occurred that can be properly reported. Further, as I just realized in preparing this article, the threat doesn’t even need to concern criminal conduct; it is enough to threaten “disgrace”. If an attorney wrote a letter suggesting that the defendant should settle to avoid having his family realize what he had done, it appears that would constitute civil extortion.
Bottom line: Limit your demand letters to the merits of the case, and leave out any secondary threats.
The website CareerBliss.com has compiled a list of the happiest and unhappiest jobs in America, and found that associate attorney is the absolute worst. Based on a survey of 65,000 employees, which examined such factors as relationship with boss, work environment, job resources, compensation, daily tasks and control over work, associate attorney rated just 2.89 out of five points.
“Associate attorneys stated they felt most unhappy with their company culture,” Heidi Golledge, chief executive of Career Bliss said. “In many cases, law firms are conducted in a structured environment that is heavily centered on billable hours. It may take several years for an associate attorney to rise to the rank of partner. People in this position rated the way they work and the rewards they receive lower than any other industry.”
Notice, the conclusion is not that being an attorney is the most miserable job, but rather being an associate attorney. This follows my own experience of hating the practice of law when I worked at a big firm, but loving it when I started my own firm. Notice also that money isn’t everything. Associate attorney was the highest paying job, on average, by a significant margin, but it still came in last. (An associate’s “high” salary is largely illusory, as explained in my article Fun With Numbers.)
So stop being a miserable drone! Pull the plug and start your own firm.
As discussed in greater detail here, we forged an important precedent as regards the application of Penal Code § 496(c). Our client loaned the defendant $202,500 that was never repaid, and in addition to suing for breach of contract and fraud, I added a claim for theft under Penal Code § 496(c), which provides for the recovery of treble damages and attorney fees. We prevailed, and the trial court awarded just under $700,000.
Defendant appealed just on the application of the Penal Code, and on January 15, 2013, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment and our interpretation of that section, holding that a civil claim for theft can be pursued even if there has been no criminal conviction, and that theft by false pretense qualifies as a theft under section 496(a). This was the first published opinion dealing with the award of treble damages under this Penal Code section, so we were justifiably quite excited.
But before the champagne corks had even returned to earth, I got a letter from counsel for Defendant, sent to me but addressed to my client, with the usual posturing about how the judgment would not hold up (sort of like the letter that was sent before the appeal to the Court of Appeal):
Your judgment is not settled. Although the Fourth Circuit court of appeal affirmed the judgment, my client is being courted [well that's gotta feel good] by firms willing to take the case up to the Supreme Court [please line up to the left]. Your attorney is very intelligent [please, I'm blushing] and very skilled [oh stop], but so are many other attorneys in California [oh yeah? name five] with a higher amount of appellate experience [I've been doing this for 26 years, so they must be really old], one of which is a well-known appeal lawyer [Vinny Gambini?] who has been brought in by others who have noticed the case and wish to dispute what is considered an abomination of law [well I, wait . . . what now?].
Then came a motion to depublish the opinion of the Court of Appeal. An attorney with no relation to the action or parties filed a letter brief requesting that my hard-earned opinion be depublished, stating that it was neither “fair or soundly reasoned.” Easy there buddy, that’s my reasoning you’re talking about, as well as Judge James Di Cesare (clearly an outstanding legal mind since he agreed with me) and Justices Fybel, Aronson and Presiding Justice O’Leary (ditto).
Well Mr. Not Soundly Reasoned, you concede that victims of theft “indisputably have standing” to bring a civil action under section 496(c), but you assert such action is available only after a defendant has first been criminally convicted for theft. So you agree that the award of treble damages is appropriate (at least under the Legislative intent) where a theft has occurred. If it is appropriate to award treble damages when there has been a theft, how does it become inappropriate if the theft is only proven civilly? Why should a victim’s damages turn on whether the police arrest and the District Attorney prosecutes? Where’s the sound reasoning in that?
I’ll let you know if the Supreme Court decides that our verdict was an abomination.
Could life at a big firm ever be this much fun?
[UPDATE:] The Supreme Court apparently determined that our verdict was not an abomination, and on April 10, 2013 not only DENIED the request to depublish the opinion, but on its own motion ruled that it will not review the opinion of the Court of Appeal and, to put a fine point on it, stated that “the matter is now final.” I take that to mean the Supreme Court is saying, “Mr. Morris’ legal reasoning is the best we have encountered since California became a state, and there is no way we would ever presume to review it even if you ask us to”, but I could be reading too much into it. I guess all the appeal attorneys who were courting the defendant will now take their chocolates and flowers and go home.
First, here is how it all comes about. I serve discovery, wait 40 days for the responses, nothing comes, I write a letter to opposing counsel informing him that I never received the responses, and realizing he forgot about all that damn discovery, the attorney responds, “Discovery? What discovery?” He pretends never to have received it. Never mind that I have absolute proof that he did receive it. I send most discovery by overnight mail, and the service I use either obtains a signature or sends me a picture of the discovery sitting on the receptionist’s desk or stuck in the door of the office. But this is a sleazy attorney we are talking about here. He doesn’t care that I know he’s lying.
Here is what used to happen. I would say, “OK [liar, liar, pants on fire], I’ll fax over another copy of the discovery and you can have ten days to answer.” He would fight me and demand the full 30 days, or thank me for the ten days and then still not serve the responses. I would then bring a motion to compel, he would serve the responses a day or two before the hearing, and then report to the court that it was all just a big misunderstanding because he never received the original discovery. Despite all my proof to the contrary, the court would declare the motions moot because the responses were served, and award so little in sanctions that they didn’t come close to covering the time spent on the motions.
These same attorneys often use the modified technique of “Motion? What motion?” when they realize they failed to file an opposition on time.
There are a lot of overworked and disorganized attorneys out there, and I have run into a number of them who basically use motions to compel as their tickler system. The simple technique to beat them at this game is to send courteous reminder letters. When I sense the opposition is one of these attorneys, I make it a practice to send reminder letters for all upcoming deadlines.
Dear Mr. Jones, just writing to remind you that your client’s responses to our first set of document demands, special interrogatories and request for admissions is due on April 3, 2013. I can’t be too flexible with the deadline because I need these responses for our summary judgment motion which I want to file by April 20, but if you need a few more days please let me know. Also, don’t forget that our mediation return date is May 15, so please be sure to respond to my earlier correspondence about the suggested mediators.
“But if the attorney is willing to lie about receiving the discovery, what’s to stop him from lying about receiving the friendly reminder letter?”, you ask. I think the answer is that most of these attorneys don’t want to lie, they are just disorganized and feel that there is no other choice when they blow a deadline. By sending the letter, you put the deadlines in front of them and are genuinely helping them to remember those deadlines. I also think that even they see the evidence against them building up. Now I’ll be able to show the judge the signed receipt for the discovery, along with an email and fax confirmation for the reminders.
“But what if I want him to blow the deadline, so that he waives objections or so that the requests for admissions can be deemed admitted”, you ask. You are just full of questions, aren’t you? If that’s your strategy, and you have enough time, go for it, but ask yourself this question: Does that ever really work? He’ll just seek relief, making the same claim that he never received the discovery. All you’ll do is create a lot of law and motion work.
Bottom line, if opposing counsel is disorganized, don’t let your case suffer as a result. Reminder letters will keep him organized and create a great record if you need to bring a motion.
I hate opposing ex parte applications.
It’s a little better than the bad old days. Ex parte means unilateral. Back in the day, we would go to court with no notice to the other side and obtain ex parte relief, as long as we could explain to the court why the other side should not receive notice. That is still an option, such as when you are seeking to grab an asset and don’t want to tip off the other side, but for the most part you have to give the other side notice.
In my jurisdiction, and I imagine most have similar rules, you must notify the other side of the hearing at least 24 hours in advance. Still, that means that opposition can take months to craft a perfect application with supporting declarations, whereas I get a few hours to prepare an opposition. Our rules also provide that the papers must be served “at the earliest possible opportunity” and I take that to me the moment they are filed with the court, which in most courts is the day before the hearing. Most unscrupulous attorneys ignore this rule, and I am lucky if I get the moving papers before the hearing. I can object to the late service, but at best the matter just gets moved to the next day and my client has to pay for another trip to court.
Even in a perfect world, however, here is how it usually plays out. I get notice of the ex parte application, and receive the moving papers that afternoon for a morning hearing the following day. I then have the rest of the day (and night if necessary) to prepare the opposition, but I can’t possibly get the papers filed before the hearing. (Sometimes if the application is for something generic like a motion to continue trial, I can prepare the opposition without ever seeing the moving papers, but I’m talking about applications supported by declarations, where I need to be able to read and oppose those declarations.)
So, ninety percent of the time when I appear at the time of the hearing and file my opposition, the judge has already read the moving papers and has no time to read the opposition. A good judge will take the time before taking the bench, but if he or she happens to be in trial, with jurors waiting in the hall, the opposition will never be read.
My latest ex parte application opposition involved a request for a TRO, seeking to restrain my client from all sorts of things. The case is a standard attempt to keep my client from competing with his former employer, by filing an action and then trying to poison my client as to future employers, while at the same time trying to intimidate him with discovery and ex parte applications.
The ex parte application for a TRO was a sight to behold, running 20 pages and supported by five declarations. I prepared an equally impressive opposition, refuting all the false claims made in the declarations, but I knew there was little or no chance of the court having the time to read my opposition in detail.
You have no doubt learned the wisdom of lots of headings to make your papers easy for the court to scan. I take this to the next level, and in cases such as this create a list with bullet points on the first page of the opposition, explaining why the application should be denied. I sometimes wonder if that is overkill, but this instance showed how effective that technique can be. The hearing was set for 8:30 a.m., and the doors did not open until that time. I checked in and filed my opposition with the court clerk. She turned to take the motion to the judge, and I saw that she met him in the corridor, preparing to enter the courtroom. As I watched, he flipped to the first page of my points and authorities where I had my list, took about 30 seconds to scan it, and then entered the courtroom and took the bench. He used my list as a checklist, asking opposing counsel to respond to each point.
Ex parte application denied.
In a recent trial where I was defending the tenant in a commercial lease dispute, I prepared a trial brief that began with the heading: “Here is how this court should resolve this matter, without the need for trial.”
The judge took the bench and began by stating, “Mr. Morris has proposed a way this matter might be resolved without the need for trial. Let’s explore that before we proceed.” With a minor change or two, the opposition agreed to my proposal and the matter was resolved before the trial. A complete home run for my client.
Be creative. Make life as easy as possible for the judge when you draft your papers, and you will have a far better shot at getting your argument in front of the court.
- How Does Google Work?
- Chocolate-Covered Strawberries Restore My Faith in Humanity
- New York Busts 19 Companies for Fake On-Line Reviews
- Five Reasons Attorneys Get Suckered by SEO Marketing Scams
- Yelp Sues the McMillan Law Group, Claiming it Posted Fake Reviews
- iPad Tip for Lawyers: Put Your Contact Information on Your Lock Screen
- Best Client Call of the Week
- Think Before You Demand — Miguel Mendoza v. Reed K. Hamzeh
- Unhappiest Job in America: Associate Attorney
- Damning With Faint Praise – The Ongoing Saga of Sharon Bell v. Igal Feibush
- Sleazy Attorney Technique No. 3: “Discovery? What Discovery?”
- A Lesson Relearned, and How to Defeat an Ex Parte Application
- If You Lie Down With Dogs You Wake Up With Fleas
- Learning to Lose with Aplomb – Part Two
- Don’t Be That Attorney – The Uncommitted Extortionist
- Should You Write Yourself a Bonus in a Fee Agreement?
- From the Trenches – Genius Advocacy or Sleazy Tactics?
- The Thing Speaks for Itself
- Don’t Be That Attorney — Learn to Take Your Lumps With Aplomb
- Think Twice Before You Send that Demand Letter Out of State